Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

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He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

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He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

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I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Family · Perspective · Uncategorized

Fall Drive

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Today the cattle are being driven the four miles back to the farm from the hills.

We don’t actually ‘drive’ them. They walk. We don’t push or get aggressive. The mamas know the path. Their bellies sway as they plod down the dirt roads. The babies push along in slow groups or stick close to their mamas.

90 minutes of slow and steady. They are back for the winter.

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Creativity · Perspective · Uncategorized

New on Friday- Top 10’s

Friday Top 10’s. A bit cliche with the number 10, but I’m going with it.

The month of November is all about what people are grateful for.  To me, being grateful is all inclusive and not just what creates happiness.

Focusing in a bit, I’m going to start posting on Fridays my top 10’s. Generally, these will be things, events or people that make me happy, bring joy, or just otherwise lift me up.

Today I’m focusing on smells. The vast majority of people have a sense of smell. I grew up with a friend that did not. It is a very rare condition called anosmia. She has never smelled anything- good or bad. Makes me think- what would my life be like without smell?

Better when next to the person with a gastrointestinal issue… Worse if I’d miss out on all the things in my list.

Jen’s Top Ten Smells
(not in any particular order, just as I thought of them)

  1. Rain
  2. Earth or dirt after a rain
  3. A warm alfalfa or prairie hay field
    view from tractor
  4. Blooming lilac bushes (not the fake lotion/ candle smell – BIG difference!)
  5. My sleepy kids when I’m snuggling them at night. Is it just me or do sleepy kids smell better?
  6. Fresh baked bread
  7. Coffee  (I actually like the smell more than the taste!)
    qnjsbtqaifsuc
  8. Cedar trees or a cedar chest
  9. My husband
  10. Freshly cut grass

 

Family · Uncategorized

Blue Skinks

Well hello to this fine Friday!

It finds me at my desk, but SHOCKER – my floor heater isn’t on! Today is a sunny day and rather unseasonably warm for mid-November. I’ll take it after the unseasonably cold last few weeks. I was almost a meteorologist, so I understand weather… but question the term “unseasonably.” And the meteorology story is saved for another day.

Back to my title – Blue Skinks. This is a bit deceiving because blue skinks are native only to an Australian island, but the truth is we have a lot of  Great Plains Skinks around our house (outside). The juveniles have blue tails. These tails also come off if you try to grab one. My kids love this!

I grew up catching skinks in the Blue Hills north of my family’s farm. Harmless creatures. As kids, we took two home and they lived in the old cellar for years – Skink and Skank. Yes, I lived a colorful childhood…

great plains skink juvenileWe’ve seen them scuttling around in the summer, sunning themselves on rocks or our sidewalk. They feed on arthropods – insects and spiders. Anything that knocks down the spider population is fine by me.

great plains skink

A few weeks ago, we took on a family-based project (read: husband driving the heavy equipment, kids and I picking up and hauling stuff around by hand and with a wheel barrow). We ripped the old, concrete steps off our house. After 50+ years of salt, the concrete was literally crumbling. You could stick your hand inside the cinder block base — although I wouldn’t based on the number of snake skins we found. The rails had been removed almost 10 years ago because they were unsafe. It was TIME.

As reluctant as I am to start another any house project, this one was necessary. Our widower neighbor to the south, Ron, needs railings to get up the three steps to our house. He comes over for holidays and just the general invite. Other neighbors need railings too. We are a welcoming house for tea, cookies, dinner or the non-food related visit.

house projectYesterday, a crew came by to start the rebuild. If you didn’t know, stamped and stained concrete is a more budget friendly option than building a deck (wood or composite).

The crew started by repairing the termite damage under the door. We are crossing our fingers that this is truly the last termite damage those beastly little *insert expletive-laced rant* creatures did. All of that happened three generations before we acquired the family-built house. We’ve repaired and replaced all sorts of things like subfloor, joists, and sheet rock. Those little buggers will eat the paper off the sheetrock!!!

They began to excavate to pour footings and found two things: a hidden underground electrical conduit and a big ball of hibernating skinks.

Skinks – super cool! The crew said that was a first! They relocated them to my flower bed to the south. Good thing it was “unseasonably” warm yesterday! The skinks had scattered by the time I got home from work. Local forecasts show a few more days of warmer weather before a possible snow. I’m hoping they will all find a new place to ball up and hibernate!

Electrical conduit – not so cool… Add an electrician to the mix so we could have electricity by the evening. We also learned that we will need to replace said conduit due to age and the breakdown of the old insulation.

Man, I love house projects (insert a smidge of snark)…. Honestly, I’ve appreciated the endgame of all 12 years of house projects, but even HGTV’s Nicole Curtis needs a break every now and then, doesn’t she???

Enjoy the weekend & Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all this next week!

 

 

Faith · Parenting · Perspective · Uncategorized

Christmas List – Oh wait! It’s only November….

This morning during a lull at work, I typed up an email with a Christmas list for my kids and sent it off to my sisters’ and parent’s email addresses. My kids won’t end up with every item on the list. (THANK GOODNESS!) These are just ideas.

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I were discussing Christmas lists and how/if/why you give or don’t give gifts for kids. We were all of the consensus that we are flooded under with toys. Three quarters of our group never buys the “Christmas toys of the year” as they are so ridiculously hyped. I looked at the top 12 “must haves” for this year and didn’t see a single one that even slightly piqued my interest.

Let’s be honest – Gremlin (80’s) to Furby (90’s) to Hatchimal (now). Seeing any resemblance???

 

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Half of us ask those who are planning to give gifts to do one toy and then contribute to the future educational fund. I might be the only one who doesn’t do a “Santa gift…” but my 7 year old asked if Santa was real a few years ago and I broke it down for him – history of the holiday and the real spirit of giving freely and generously that we should all have.

Call me the Grinch? What can I say? I told him I’d always tell him the truth. I did ask him to keep that information to himself so that other kids (sister included) could ask when he/she is ready.

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Without further adieu – the Christmas list:

S kids for Christmas

From mom and dad – bikes and lap desks, new family board game


T would like some sort of mp3 player (hand-held music that he can download songs and plug into his radio/speaker that mom and dad got him. Will need bluetooth or ability to attach cord)

new bike helmet – not child sized, but probably adult small? 
more cows for his toy farm, Schlaag size (the ones at Orschelns)
Grain truck for his toy farm
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Tall sports socks – size medium big boys
bath color tablets
Circuit snaps or Simple Robotics kits

M would like barbie clothes, doll clothes, a new stroller for her dolls (she has totaled two… the babies get hauled around our house a lot!)
lip gloss
Melissa and Doug pizza kit
underoos
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Kelsea Ballerini CD — any of them
bath paints – Crayola. we had another brand that left hives on the kids soooo, I know Crayola doesn’t
bath color tablets
Fancy Nancy books- we have fancy classroom, fancy day, and fancy cupcakes
stick on earrings

Please no fidget spinners, Shopkins, Num Nums, or Tsum Tsums. OUTLAWED in our house.

If you have never heard of Snap Circuits, let me introduce you. These are fantastically designed for the child that loves to create and spends hours working on Lego creations. Only these come with a twist – electricity via a couple AA batteries. Can be done independently or with a friend or adult!
Both my children have outgrown their bikes. The seats are adjusted all the way up. They ride all year round when the weather permits it. Miles and miles of bike riding within a few miles of our home!
If you noticed, we tend to mix in things that they need such as special socks (not just your standard white or black), new packages of underwear, sometimes a new character based toothbrush, and a new water bottle. Our school encourages kids to bring their own water bottles to keep in the classroom, thus ours are used all twelve months of the year and at least 5 days a week.
Who doesn’t love bath paints, bath color drops, and stick on earrings as little throw in items or stocking stuffers?
stick on earrings
We also like to shop for others both in our family and community. This is our first year to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The kids are excited to do this! I’ve gathered suggestions from our friends for the ages that we are packing for. Looks like we will likely be putting in a water bottle, wash cloth, crayons, stickers, toy car – boy, hair pretties or a jump rope – girl, little bars of soap, and …. What are you favorite things to pack in an OCC shoebox?
What’s on the Christmas lists at your house? Do you celebrate Christmas or give gifts?
Perspective · Uncategorized

Travel Anxiety

Travel anxiety.

Ok I said it. I have travel anxiety.

I always have. I was the kid on the bus quietly praying fervently that we wouldn’t slide off the slick gravel road after a thunderstorm (that did happen fairly frequently). I still grip the door or the Oh S*** handle in the truck when I think we are too close to the white line or are driving on a narrow road. I leave handprints on the armrests on airplanes – the WHOLE flight. Jesus and I get in some serious talks in the air.

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My face when the plane takes off.

Friday, my family is traveling to Colorado for my uncle’s memorial service. A 9.5hr trip, we are taking my vehicle. My dad is driving, but he promised that if he gets too tired he’ll turn it over to one of the other five adults in the SUV. We’ve had time to process my uncle’s passing, but the sad reason for our trip will run as an undercurrent as we cover the miles.

Just the original family, no husbands or kids on this road trip. It’ll be a throwback to our childhood. I wonder if my mom will limit our Gameboy and Walkman time? Or if Dad will have ThunderDrums to play in the background as we drive across the southwest? I cross my fingers that we won’t have a freak malfunctioning door alarm that sounds every time we hit a bump…

Growing up, my parents prioritized us going on a family trip every year. One year, it was north to Turtleford, Saskatchewan, Canada to see relatives. Frequently it was to Colorado to see cousins, but with a little extra tacked on such as Mesa Verde or the Sand Dunes Natl Park. When money was tight, it was just a couple days travel across south central Nebraska to buy school supplies and stay at a B&B. Memories made everywhere we traveled no matter the destination.

Regardless- the Anxiety. I can’t help but feel that churny feeling in my stomach looking ahead to our car time. My chest is tight thinking about it. Deep breaths…

I love to travel, see new places, learn about their local history, and people watch. That’s the thing. Quite the conundrum. It’s getting started that’s hard.

 

 

Creativity · Perspective · Uncategorized

October

Day #1 of Year 35 started rainy and cool

In October, the turning leaves are works of art

Textures in the prairie grass make the roadsides a patchwork quilt

Soulful music serenades my day at the office

A bouquet of deep oranges, rich reds and carmelized yellows adorns my desk

Another trip around the sun

I am grateful. ❤

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